Dunedin pilot Craig Buist always wears his life jacket in the
Since buying an amphibious light sport aircraft last June, he
has spent all his spare time landing and launching it on
Otago Harbour, Lake Waihola and near his favourite holiday
spot in the Ida Valley.
Mr Buist was shy about the United States-designed aircraft's
cost, but said he had always loved his toys and the SeaRey
was his favourite.
The 400kg fibreglass aircraft, powered by a 73.5kW Rotax 912
engine, cruised about 80 knots in the air and about 40 knots
on the water.
''It will try to fly at about 50 knots. You're not supposed
to go over 10,000 [ft], and I've flown at 7000 on occasion,''
Mr Buist said.
With a wingspan of 9m, the aircraft flew for about four hours
on a full 88 litre petrol tank.
It took some 35 minutes to fly from the Otago Aero Club on
the Taieri to Central Otago, where Mr Buist often spent
weekends fishing at his crib.
Space for a fishing rod and bait behind the pilot's seat
meant the aircraft also served as a boat.
The two-seater, built in 1999, had been stored in a garage
for years when Mr Buist shipped it from South Australia to
''We disassembled it and put it in a 40ft shipping container,
then I spent months repairing parts and putting it back
together,'' he said.
One of just three in the country, the SeaRey would be on
display this weekend as part of the Wings and Wheels show at
the Taieri Airfield.
Mr Buist said his aircraft would be available for close
inspection and he would be happy to take a few people on
flights during the Saturday event.
The show, from 10am to 5pm, would also include joy rides and
scenic flights in other aircraft, as well as displays of
classic cars, vintage machinery and military vehicles.
Mr Buist said the event was about introducing people,
especially children, to aviation and helping them fulfil
their dreams of flying.
He said his amphibious aircraft helped to dispel notions
about light sport aircraft, also known as microlights, being
compared with ''lawn mowers and bed sheets''.
''They are now some of the safest, fastest and sleekest
aircraft to be seen,'' he said.